Friday, December 17, 2004

Coming to grips with past traumas

Coming to grips with past traumas

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Friday, December 17, 2004 12:41 AM

When I was five years old, my mother got very sick and died of breast cancer. As a result, I was sent to an orphanage for one year with my sister. My two other brothers were sent to different relatives.

I was miserable and scared in that orphanage. I cannot remember one single happy moment. When mom died, I learned years later that I never cried. I was so depressed, however, that dad brought me to the Boston Children’s Hospital where doctors found nothing physically wrong with me, but determined that I was grieving.

It was 40 years later when I finally wept. A psychologist friend of mine was able to pull the memories of those days out of me. I cried like a child for more than an hour without saying a word. I was curled up in the fetal position on the floor of our sala with him and my wife holding me. “Your tears are 40 years late,” said my friend.

I felt a lot better after that, and I finally understood why, ever since I can remember, I would think of death every day. The Angel of Death had taken the woman I loved. As a result, I was subjected to lots of pain. The orphanage, separation from my siblings, feelings of abandonment, rejection, my father’s severe alcoholism, to name just a few. I used to see Dad blacked out on the floor in a drunken stupor. I vowed never to drink alcohol and never did.

To this day I worry about dying before my daughters finish college. I don’t want them to become orphans until they are adults. The traumas that I experienced will never be theirs if I can help it.

These are just a few personal examples of childhood traumas that I have had to deal with. I share them with you in the hope that you, too, will have the courage to search into your past to uncover the traumas in your childhood, study them and make connections about how they have impacted on you.

The key to your liberation from the negative effects of past traumas is understanding them. But before you can understand them, you will need to motivate yourself to look back, search for them and bravely face the truth, regardless of how ugly it might be. It will take guts, but it’s the only way to freedom from the tyranny of past traumas that won’t go away unless they are properly dealt with.

We all are wounded. If you tell me that you’re not, then I can only suspect that you are in denial. I am reminded of a young woman who was so badly wounded that she refused to look at her woundedness. Instead, she would talk about how perfect was her childhood. She was a very troubled woman whose life was spinning out of control, yet she could not seem to understand why it was so. Devastated by the horrors of her childhood traumas, she could not face the truth and launched herself headlong into complete denial of the truth. The consequences were more devastation.

More tomorrow.


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